Ameya Gawand’s strength of will is a source of motivation for those who know him. Despite all odds, he lives an absolutely normal life and this is what makes him a truly special child.
When you first meet him, it does not even occur to you that he is a child who can barely see and whose right side of body is paralyzed. Within minutes, this gifted child wins over your heart. As a child with severe disabilities, Ameya comes across as an extremely bright and "normal" child.
Ameya’s stamina is infectious and his warm friendliness is heart warming. Once you’ve been with him for a while, his innate talents slowly come to the fore. First, you are treated to his wonderfully colorful drawings, each one reflecting a promise of a great artist of future. Then you are informed that he won the first prize at a national competition organized by The Maharashtra State Council for Child Welfare. Little surprise, that.
Amu, as his loved ones fondly call him, is a natural speaker. His near perfect diction has won him several awards in elocution competitions; both inter school and those organized by his own school. "He delivers his speeches with such passion that his audiences are often left spell bound and in tears", says his father, Dr. Nityanand Gawand. "But he can also make people laugh. His sense of humor is terrific. And his stock of jokes never ends. I think he is a natural entertainer."
He has collected a pile of certificates for other activities too. A sizeable assortment of trophies and cups adorn his living room. He won four consecutive fancy dress competitions organized by the Rotaract Club of Thane, until he crossed the qualifying age, when he could no more participate. Amu excels in recitations, story telling and mimicry and never tires of performing in public. Not the one to shy away from people, Amu is always ready for a public performance. Even guests at home are entertained for hours together.
In school, Amu sets an example of a well-behaved and obedient child. His teachers love him and he has been fortunate to find some exceptional teachers in his childhood. His mother, Sai, is quick to praise Ms. Pimenta, whose contribution has been instrumental in his development as a confident, mature child. She is grateful to Ms. Mahajan for her love and affection towards Amu. Ameya’s parents are also appreciative of Ms. Korde, the principal of Saraswati Vidyalaya, for her continued support and encouragement.
Another striking aspect of his personality is his ability to reason. Amu’s power of reasoning is so strong that it is difficult not be moved by it. His conversations with his father reveal this child’s deep and philosophical mind, and his extremely sensitive disposition. His love for animals is heartrending and his ambition is to be a vet, so that he can be near to animals and help them as much as he can. Accepting that Amu’s wisdom is far beyond his age, his father says candidly, "living my life with Amu has been so full of fun and learning".
Amu’s faint vision has never bothered him. He surfs the Internet and watches TV, albeit from real close. His rather weak right side does not prevent him from playing cricket and winning matches. And he is now learning classical music. Interestingly, his father says that Amu has never complained about his lack and has always demonstrated a resolve to triumph over life’s trials.
Amu’s parents are extremely proud of their child. But, their emotions cannot be felt by any of us. They have preserved Ameya’s first effort at writing. "For me, it was a great achievement of a child who was virtually sightless", says his father, with moist eyes. Every hurdle that Ameya overcame has given his parents a reason to celebrate.
Such is the determination of this young soul that he once participated in marathon race, some two years ago. His physical disability did not stop him from completing the race, though he fell down a few times while running. When you hear such stirring accounts of courage, you are led to conclude that Amu is not handicapped; he is simply more challenged than the rest of us.